FINANCE: Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust has signed a ‘principles’ letter for 2012-13 with its main commissioner.

The proposed contract will set a contract baseline of £181m with expenditure of up to £3m above this covered by the commissioner and the costs of anything beyond split 50-50.

The April board meeting heard there were issues still to be resolved and risks involved - including a 2 per cent of total contract potential fine if the trust had more than 35 C. difficile cases.

The trust ended 2011-12 with a small surplus of £396,000 after it received more income than expected in March as it tackled an 18 week backlog.